Teen with terminal cancer gets early graduation ceremony: ‘It makes me feel like I matter’

Teen with terminal cancer gets early graduation ceremony: ‘It makes me feel like I matter’

A Texas teen received her high school diploma during an early graduation ceremony, after she found out that her cancer had spread and decided to not follow through with more treatment.

Crystal “Iris” Marquez was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma (a type of cancer that forms in or around bones) in her shoulder back in April 2015. She went through a year of chemotherapy and was told that she was cancer-free. But just six months after completing treatment, a doctor informed the 17-year-old that the cancer had spread.

“Recently, I was diagnosed with a tumor on my lung,” Marquez told KPRC. “When I went back for a checkup, they saw on my rib cage I also had a tumor.”

Despite the troubling prognosis, Marquez wasn’t ready to give up on her dreams, and told her family that she wouldn’t be missing school, nor would she be going through with treatment. Instead, she expressed a final wish to graduate high school. Luckily, the district was behind her in making that happen.

On March 8, Alief Independent School District and Taylor High School brought administrators, classmates and Marquez’s family and friends together to honor her in an early graduation ceremony where the student gave a speech addressing her hardships and her drive to overcome them.


“I am a Disney girl. I have battled pirates, dragons and evil queens. I have dreamed impossible dreams,” Marquez said in her speech. “Seniors, there will be times when there are things that are out of your control. Don’t let it harden your heart. Don’t let it define who you are.”

Marquez didn’t immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. However, she explained to KPRC that it’s not only her classmates who are feeling inspired by her speech, but also her classmates who are inspiring her in return.

“It makes me feel like I matter and it motivates me to keep pushing on,” she said.

And in her speech, she made just one request of those supporting her.

“There is one thing that I can ask for you,” she shared, “and that is to reach for the sky, to infinite and beyond.”